Firms must “get closer to customers” if marketing is to be welcomed
Consumers see supermarkets as ‘friends’ but many major industry sectors fail to relate to customers, finds survey
Supermarkets have done a great job of making their customers feel like they really know them, but firms in other industry sectors have a long way to go to build a bond with consumers before their marketing messages and offers are truly welcomed.
That is one of the findings in new research from customer insight and database marketing company GI Insight.
The research found that many UK companies need to do more to create personalised, highly relevant customer communications, the figures revealed. GI Insight’s Customer Intimacy Index – based on a survey of 1,000 UK consumers – revealed that industry sectors with frequent transactions, regular customer contact and strong loyalty programmes are those that are best received and viewed in the most friendly light by consumers. But companies operating in many major consumer sectors need to raise their game if they want to build strong customer relationships.
Supermarkets topped the index, with consumers rating their understanding of customer needs and preferences as 26% above the norm. Respondents felt that these businesses demonstrated in their communications that they know their customers like ‘good friends’ rather than an ‘acquaintances’ or a ‘total strangers’. They were even more highly regarded by their female customers, who rated their grocery retailers’ knowledge of them as 33% above average.
Among the other sectors that consumers felt knew them like ‘a good friend’ were Internet service providers (17% above average), banks and entertainment companies (both 16% above). Mobile phone providers and holiday, hotel and travel companies were also rated above the norm.
In contrast, UK consumers declared that estate agents showed the worst customer knowledge in their messages, rating them 39 points below average for treating them ‘like a total stranger’.
Other sectors seen as being out of touch and unfamiliar with their customers are alcoholic drinks (28% below average), computer producers (22% below) car manufacturers (20% below) and food brands (12% below). Fashion firms, utilities, charities and insurance companies hovered around the average indicating plenty of room for improvement.
*These segments do not cover the entirety of the sample base
Overall, 18 to 24-year-olds rated the firms they deal with most highly in terms of how well they demonstrated their knowledge of their customers in the communications and offers they send via post, email and phone.
Men felt that the companies and brands that they deal with demonstrated a greater knowledge and familiarity with their needs and preferences than did women, rating all sectors 14 percentage points higher than women.
Andy Wood, MD of GI Insight, commented: “‘Know your customers’ is a mantra that just about every company understands and embraces, but too many simply pay lip service to the concept.
“It would seem that, while most organisations that collect a lot of customer data are managing to provide their customers with personalised highly relevant offers and communications, there is still a long way to go before this becomes the norm. Even within industries that appear to have close relationships with their customers, there are discrepancies in the level of successful targeting of different age groups.”
He added that, as the UK emerges from recession, it is critical for firms to understand the value of customer data and its vital importance in enabling them to tailor offers and communications that are seen as relevant and welcomed by customers, thus helping with retention, cross-selling and up-selling.